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וירא אלקים כי טוב

And G-d saw that it was good. (1:10)

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Horav Zelik Epstein, zl, Rosh Yeshivah of Shaar Torah, spent the early part of 1940 in Kelm, Lithuania. He was an aveil, mourner, for his father, and he required a thrice daily minyan to recite Kaddish. He felt that, at the time, while the war was raging, the most practical place to do this would be in Kelm. Already at a young age, his reputation as a talmid chacham, Torah scholar, preceded him. Additionally, he was proficient with a Hebrew typewriter. Thus, Rebbetzin Nechamah Leeba, daughter of the Alter m’Kelm and widow of Horav Tzvi Hirsch Broide, asked him to edit and type the Alter’s kesavim, written manuscripts. He agreed, and, for the next six months, he sat upstairs in the Rebbetzin’s attic redacting the kesavim. Indeed, a good part of the five volume Chochmah u’Mussar was the result of his editing.

Rav Zelik made three copies: one to be sent to Eretz Yisrael; one for the family; one for himself. When he was about to leave Kelm, he was prepared to take his copy along with him. Horav Gershon Miadnik, zl, brother-in-law of the Rosh Yeshivah of Kelm and Horav Doniel Moshovitz, zl, son-in-law of the Alter, demanded that he return the third copy. It was not leaving Kelm with him. Rav Zelik claimed that the primary reason that he had accepted the task of typing (a task which had taken a considerable amount of time) was that he wanted to avail himself of a copy of the Alter’s kesavim. Not out of a sense of disrespect, but out of a desire to know the halachah with regard to the fruits of his labor, he decided to present the question to the Rosh Yeshivah of Kelm, Rav Doniel Moshowitz, who was the Alter’s older son-in-law.

Rav Doniel quoted the above pasuk and its accompanying Midrash which compare Hashem (so to speak) to a cook who wants to taste the meal that he had prepared. This indicates, posited Rav Doniel, that one may partake pleasure from his creation. Hashem created the world for man; yet, He took a moment to “enjoy” His creation. Likewise, when one designs, composes, originates an entity, he is permitted to savor it and has definite rights to it. Rav Zelik took his copy with him to Mir when he left Kelm. While most of his original typing was later printed, he never divulged or showed anyone the parts of the kesavim which had been omitted. He figured that, as the typist, he had a legitimate right to it, but this did not necessarily allow it to be open for public consumption.

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